Georges Rech - Fashion Designer Encyclopedia



French design company

Company History: Georges Rech designer collection established in Paris, 1960; Synonyme separates division established, 1973; Unanyme division of coordinated knitwear and woven separates established, 1981; Georges Rech Group accessories division founded, 1983; licensing department established, 1983; Georges Rech Homme men's ready-to-wear established, 1987; joined Courtaulds as part of textile division, London, 1989; renamed Courtaulds Textiles Plc., 1990; initiated licensing agreement in Thailand, 1993; turnaround after several years of low sales, 1997; Courtaulds acquired by Sara Lee Corp., 2000; franchised or wholly-owned Georges Rech boutiques around the world, including Paris, London, Brussels, Montreal, and Hong Kong; Unanyme distributed through 45 stores in France; group lines also found in many multibrand retailers throughout the world. Company Address: 112 rue Reaumur, 75002 Paris, France.

Publications

On GEORGES RECH:

Articles

Mower, Sara, "Anglo-French Mix of Aggression and Chic," in The Independent (London), 23 November 1989.

Nicholson, Kathleen, "Private Labels Finding a Welcome in Areas Where DesigGPners Live," in WWD, 14 August 1997.

Kibazo, Joel, "Courtaulds Soars on U.S. Bid," in the Financial Times, 15 February 2000.

Fallon, James, "Sara Lee Will Buy Courtaulds for $237.8 Million," in WWD, 27 March 2000.

"So Rech, So Global: The Georges Rech Spring-Summer Collection Goes Down Well," in the Bangkok Post, 11 April 2001.

"Fiercely Feminine Rech," in the New Straits Times, 14 May 2001.

***

When asked once to sum up his style philosophy, French ready-to-wear designer Georges Rech replied with a single word, "Balance." His fashion house aimed to create a synthesis of ideas, designing not for any one woman or type of person, but for an ever-changing, contemporary ideal. His simple, relaxed, well-made, and affordable coats, suits, dresses, and separates projected an easy-going accessibility, without compromising on creativity or style, and his name became synonymous with casual chic. As Rech put it early in his career, "Sportswear corresponds to the way people live. I don't like to shut a woman up in fabric."

Rech first emerged in the 1960s as one of the pioneers of Parisian ready-to-wear for women. He became known as a leading French manufacturer of tailored coats and suits, before branching out into raincoats. The early coat and suit collections were rather structured and masculine in feeling, but into the 1970s his styles broadened and loosened, with easy jackets over trousers, bloused windbreakers, billowing dresses, and both short and long skirts. Rech was interested in bringing the comfort of leisure wear and sportswear into focus at a time when the fashion majority still upheld notions of clothing propriety, whether it was dressing for city/country, or day/evening. He looked to the youth movements of his day for inspiration, noticing how the young defied adult conventions in their clothing, and he began to experiment with work and leisure fabrics for daytime. He declared denim was the "perfect" fabric, and transformed the humble, working class cloth into several sophisticated and urbane looks, such as a short, black-and-white striped denim pantsuit with witty elbow patches.

In 1973 Rech created Synonyme, a collection of coordinating basic separates. The line was an immediate success, gaining special notice for an elegant black panne velvet sweatshirt over black crepe flare-leg pants. Rech also designed a bestselling "sweatshirt dress"for day, and adapted other sportswear styles in his loosely-draped Qiana top and skirt for evening. One observer referred to these dressing up/dressing down crossover ideas in fabric and cut as "le Style Americaine," and the designer's clever takes on casual sportswear were indeed well-received in the U.S. when he opened a boutique there in 1978.

The Unanyme junior line, combining knitwear with woven and tailored pieces was premiered in 1981, emphasizing lower-priced compatible separates that could be freely mixed and matched. The next expansion was into a line of accessories, and then came the establishment of Georges Rech Homme, creating for men the clean-cut yet stylish look for which Rech's womenswear had become known. The fourth arm of the house remained the high-end Georges Rech designer line offering structured sophisticated coats, suits, and dresses for women, with a timeless style independent of ephemeral fashion trends. Though each group had a separate identity, the pieces designed for each division continued to embody the basic Rech philosophy of creativity mitigated by realism and wearability.

The company was bought out in 1989 by Courtaulds Textiles of London, and Georges Rech relinquished his personal interest in the house. Since then Daniele Jagot, who worked for the company for over 20 years, took over designing the Georges Rech top-range label, while Fumihiko Harada designed the Synonyme line. By the mid-1990s the label had little flash and sales were far from robust, in part due to a depressed market. The brand made a comeback in 1996 when designer clothing sales rallied in Europe and stayed in the black for several years, prompting expansion. The Georges Rech name became more prevalent in France, with 40 stores in the country (more than a dozen new outlets opened in 1998 alone), the same year parent company Courtauld bought Claremont Garments to augment its apparel division.

By the new century Courtauld was locked in battle with the U.S.-based Sara Lee Corporation over a hostile takeover attempt. To bolster its funds, Courtauld sold several units and put Georges Rech up for sale as well. Despite its efforts, however, Courtauld succumbed and became part of Sara Lee's Branded Apparel Group, which consisted of a slew of apparel, undergarment, and hosiery companies worldwide. Given the similarities in the two firm's business segments, industry analysts believed the acquisition was a good fit for both sides.

The Georges Rech brand for women in 2001 remained feminine and beautiful, still designed by the founder's one-time assistant Jagot. Covering the label's growing success in the the Far East, the New Straits Times characterized a recent Jagot collection as "Masculine styles in unforgettably female forms with a strong and sexy mood, animal stripes look wild on rock-chic suits while ribbon corset dresses flirt with naughty-but-nice eveningwear theme." The Bangkok Post (11 April 2001) similarly enthused, "Suits—the brand's field of unrivalled expertise and its springboard to fame—were offered in a variety of forms, from the classic, impeccable male costume to the feminine low-neckline and skirt ensemble to trouser suits. Splendid materials and prints, as well as sophisticated details, were the leitmotif of the show."

—KathleenPaton;

updated by SydonieBenét

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